With Lucasfilm firmly ensconced in Disney land, production has begun the next animated Star Wars TV series. Two months after The Clone Wars was forced to surrender following a five-year run on Cartoon Network, Star Wars Rebels is massing its forces for a fall 2014 attack. It will premiere as an hourlong special before the series kicks off on Disney XD outlets worldwide. Produced by Lucasfilm Animation, the action series is set during the nearly two-decade span between Episode III and IV of the Star Wars films — a time frame never chronicled onscreen. The Empire is fortifying its hold on the galaxy and hunting down the last of the Jedi Knights as a fledgling rebellion is taking shape, but plot details are in the vault (though check out a behind-the-scenes chat with executive producer Dave Filoni below).
Here’s the other shoe dropping after new Star Wars owner Disney shuttered LucasArts, the video game producer that had been behind the majority of games related to George Lucas’ Star Wars franchise. At the time of that announcement — which included laying off more than 150 employees — Disney said it planned to use a licensing model. EA already has worked in this business before, creating Star Wars: The Old Republic.
BURBANK and REDWOOD CITY, Calif., May 6, 2013 — The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) and Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) today announced a new multi-year exclusive licensing agreement to develop and publish globally new games based on Star Wars characters and storylines.
Under the agreement, EA will develop and publish new Star Wars titles for a core gaming audience, spanning all interactive platforms and the most popular game genres, while Disney will retain certain rights to develop new titles within the mobile, social, tablet and online game categories.
“This agreement demonstrates our commitment to creating quality game experiences that drive the popularity of the Star Wars franchise for years to come,” said John Pleasants, Co-President of Disney Interactive. “Collaborating with one of the world’s premier game developers will allow us to bring an amazing portfolio of new Star Wars titles to our fans around the world.”
The Force is strong today as Star Wars fans turn May 4 into a viral plug for the 36-year-old brand. The annual “holiday” known as Intergalactic Star Wars Day scored major pick-up on broadcast and online media for Lucasfilm and new owner Disney. The punny “#maythefourthbewithyou” and “Happy Star Wars Day” celebration/branding blitz was trending worldwide on Twitter today – not bad for a catchphrase that’s three decades old. Even the White House joined in, Tweeting to 3.4M followers: “Happy Star Wars Day! #maythefourthbewithyou (We’re still not building a Death Star)”. Disney/Lucasfilm also got a bump from the month-old geek photo meme known as “Vadering”, which picked up again in popularity leading into May 4.
British makeup artist Stuart Freeborn, known for his work on the Star Wars films and 2001: A Space Odyssey, has died. He was 98. Freeborn died in London of a combination of ailments associated with his age, according to AP. In addition to creating Star Wars‘ Jedi master Yoda, which he modeled after Albert Einstein’s features as well as his own, Freeborn helped create Chewbacca and Jabba the Hutt as well as other iconic characters in the franchise. “Stuart was already a makeup legend when he started on Star Wars,” George Lucas said in a statement sent by Lucasfilm. “He brought with him not only decades of experience, but boundless creative energy. His artistry and craftsmanship will live on forever in the characters he created.” Outside of his most famous Star Wars creations, Freeborn designed the apelike “Dawn Of Man” hominids in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and transformed Peter Sellers for Dr. Strangelove.
Disney CEO Bob Iger seemed torn this evening between wanting to hype the spinoff Star Wars films he just announced and wanting to keep expectations under control. They are still in the very early stages, he told analysts: “I don’t have details or specifics about the films themselves,” he says. The concept is simply “becoming more real” with scripts now in development. “We’re not saying how many although I did mention two creators [Larry Kasdan and Simon Kinberg] who are working on two different films.” He and producer George Lucas spoke about the idea of having additional films when they negotiated Disney’s $4.1B agreement to buy Lucasfilm, which closed in December. But “we did not place a value on this activity.” The deal “was about the three saga films [Star Wars VII, VIII and IX] and all of the businesses that flow from those.” To that end, at a meeting a few weeks ago, he and Lucas agreed to focus their energies for now on the next Star Wars film due in 2015. They plan to investigate strategies to squeeze as much money from it as they can, including initiatives involving online, mobile apps, television, and parks and resorts. He wouldn’t discuss when they’ll appear, saying that “time will start exposing that to the outside world.”
This clip of J.J. Abrams talking about storytelling and Star Wars is excerpted from a 2007 talk at the annual TED Conference. In the clip (watch it below) Abrams talks about “the mystery box,” the key information that’s withheld in a story that makes the story intriguing and compelling. As he puts it: “The intentional withholding of information is much more engaging.” The talk was a big hit today on the social media site Reddit when someone dug it out and pointed to it as evidence Abrams will be a terrific director of the next Star Wars, which he was assigned last week.
In the larger presentation (you can view it on the jump), Abrams ranges widely on the nature of storytelling, with clips from his own show Lost as well as Jaws. He references his childhood Super 8 camera, a never-opened box of magic tricks from his beloved grandfather, the biggest mystery box of all, and one of the three rules of the universe: Don’t hurt Tom Cruise’s nose.
EXCLUSIVE: I learned of this decision just now from Lucasfilm‘s promotional partners who are telling me the studio now owned by Disney wants to focus only on “rebooting the franchise” with three new …